On February 7, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) confiscated more than 1,100 pounds of illegally caught striped bass. The discovery came within a week of pulling more than 10 tons of illegally caught striped bass from four illegally anchored gill nets near Bloody Point Light, south of Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
NRP seized the latest 1,159 pounds from 1,200 yards of illegally anchored gillnet at the mouth of Eastern Bay, a mile south of the previously located Bloody Point gill nets. Officers also found 600 yards of illegally anchored gill net near Poplar Island that contained about 300 dead horseshoe crabs and a few live striped bass, which were released back into the Bay.
DNR and stakeholders, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States, Coastal Conservation Association, the Maryland Watermen’s Association, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association and the Maryland Charter Boat Association, have come together to offer a reward of $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons responsible for setting these anchored gill nets in the vicinity of Bloody Point Light. Funding for the reward will come from dedicated funding as well as contributions from these stakeholder groups, who are publicly denouncing these crimes.
Maryland’s commercial striped bass fishery is managed on a quota system, in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; the commercial gill net quota for February is 354,318 pounds. When the illegally harvested striped bass confiscated by the NRP were deducted from the quota, DNR was forced to immediately shut down the fishery. The fishery will remain closed until DNR can determine the extent of illegal nets out on the Bay and the amount of striped bass caught in those nets.
Information on this crime may be called into the Natural Resources Police Catch-a-Poacher Hotline at 800-635-6124. Callers may remain anonymous.